Eight Questions for the 'Final 8' - Isabel Lizardi
In each of the eight days running up to the 2011 Shell LiveWIRE
Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, we will be profiling one of the
eight finalists to give you some background on their entrepreneurial
journey so far. Third up is Lizardi of Bare Conductive.
To learn more about Bare Conductive visit Isabel's Alumni page.
Can you give us some background on how your business got started?
Bare Conductive began as a thesis project at the Royal College of Art
in 2009. After being presented at the RCA graduation show in February
2009, the project gained world-wide coverage both on web and print media
in publications such as Gizmodo and Wired. In the
following months, interest and requests for the material became so
overwhelming that the inventors decided to pursue the project
commercially. Since then, interest in this innovative technology has
grown consistently, and the company successfully won a Technology
Strategy Board Digital Disruptive Solutions Grant in 2010. Inspiration
for the business has come from the breadth of interest expressed for
Bare Conductive’s products in areas ranging from educational,
performance, sensing, packaging, and medical applications. The
enthusiasm and excitement that this material continues to inspire in
both individuals and commercial players is what drives us to deliver the
next phase of development, turning our ideas into readily available
What has been the biggest barrier you have overcome to get this far?
The most difficult challenge that the company has had to overcome in
the two years’ since its founding has been scaling up and streamlining
its production process. Transforming a one-off manufacturing process
into a large-scale system that works seamlessly has meant identifying
suppliers and manufacturers, and ensuring they all work in conjunction
to ensure that Bare Conductive provides its clients with the best
product and service possible. Bare Conductive has put a great deal of
thought into the companies it partners with and the suppliers it engages
with to establish a business that is not only financially successful,
but also socially responsible in every possible area of the business.
This holistic approach has not been easy, however, having successfully
implemented this process in just over two years has been an incredible
achievement for the founders.
How has Shell LiveWIRE helped you on your journey?
Shell LiveWIRE has been invaluable to Bare Conductive in the exposure
and legitimacy that its endorsement lends the company. By providing a
platform and voice through which Bare Conductive can present its
innovative products to the world, Shell LiveWIRE has helped us broaden
our business through key contacts and potential customers. The exposure
that this well-respected institution provides, as well as its financial
support, have helped advance Bare Conductive in its path to success.
What has been the best bit of advice you’ve received on your entrepreneurial journey?
One of the most useful pieces of advice we received as a company was
to ensure that we built a team of people who feel personally invested
and motivated in the company and its goals. A company is bound for
success when all members of the team, from its founders to its
investors, have a sense of ownership and personal fulfillment throughout
the venture’s growth.
Which entrepreneurs do you look to for inspiration?
We love the work of Jane Ni Dhulchaointigh at Sugru. Jane not only
created an amazing material, but she’s also leveraged the web as a great
tool for marketing and developing a community around her product. I
think the way she’s created interest for her product by encouraging
customers to share their ideas and projects online is really great.
What are you most looking forward to at Shell LiveWIRE LIVE! 2011?
I’m looking forward to meeting the other contestants and getting an
opportunity to talk with the members of the judging panel and other
guests. This event is a great platform to meet innovators and
entrepreneurs from different sectors and learn about their ventures and
What will it mean to you and the business if you win?
Winning the Shell LiveWIRE award would be an incredible honor as well
as a great validation of the work and effort that has been invested
into Bare Conductive since its founding two years ago. Getting
recognition from such a well-respected institution is wonderful for the
business, but also incredibly rewarding on a personal level.
What do you think can be done to help entrepreneurs in the future?
I believe entrepreneurs could benefit from having a hub or network
where they can share and interact with other young start-ups. In my
experience at Bare Conductive I have found that talking with founders of
other small companies has helped highlight common hurdles and identify
similarities across fields. I believe a network for young entrepreneurs
to share and discuss problems and seek feedback would be a great way to
help small start-ups develop their businesses further.
For full details on each of the eight finalists for the 2011 Shell
LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, please visit the 'Final 8' page.
You can watch the 60-second elevator pitch video submitted by
Isbael as part of the Shell LiveWIRE Grand Ideas Award process in the
top right-hand corner of your screen. To keep up-to-date with the 2011 Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, please follow the hastag #SLW11 on Twitter.